Definition of the term Performance Rights Organizations
This article discusses the issue of Performance Rights Organizations For Music Creators. Registration with a Performance Rights Organization or PRO is critical since they are the mechanism through which royalties are collected for performances, whether live or recorded.
Music creators, therefore need to pay attention here, since PROs facilitate income generation for the work that was created.
More importantly, PROs protect the copyright through a mechanism that provides payment whenever the work of creators/songwriters/composers is played publicly.
Meaning of the term music creator
For ease of reference, the term music creator also refers to songwriters or songwriter. By law, a songwriter is the composer of the lyrics or musical notation.
ASCAP explains this very nicely:
A Writer is someone who creates a musical composition: the melody, harmony, lyrics, arrangements, beats, etc.
What are performance rights?
Performance rights attributed by law (USA) to musical works
Various licenses and rights can be assigned to a musical work under Copyright Law. Here are two examples:
a. Public Performing Rights
This is the exclusive right of the copyright owner to authorize the performance or transmission of the work in public.
b. Public Performance License
A Performance Rights Organization issues licenses on behalf of the copyright owner or his agent. These licenses grant others the right
to perform the work in, or transmit the work to, the public.
What do performance rights organizations do?
Performance Rights Organisations (PROs) provide the following services:
– registration of songs produced by copyright holders.
– sales of licenses to public or private entities that wish to use the song in their establishments.
– Payment of royalties to copyright holders based on licenses bought by non-copyright holders.
– Some PROs such as BMI pay royalties when the copyright holders play their works at live concerts. However, they need to submit the concert playlist within the time specified by the organization.
Performance Rights Organizations in the USA and Eastern Caribbean
BMI for songwriters
– Registration is free for songwriters.
– Applicants over 18 years only need an email address.
– Applicants under 18 years of age need to provide a custodial trust bank account that has been established at a U.S. bank.
How BMI divides royalties
BMI assigns performance royalty payments to songwriters/composers/music creators and to their music publishers as a single unit equivalent to 200%. This policy changes when there is no division of performance royalties between songwriters/composers/music creators and their music publishers.
In that event, the songwriter/composer/music creator is assigned 100% of the writer’s share of the royalties PLUS 100% of the publishers’ share.
BMI applies the following rules to the division of the 200% royalty:
– The total publishers’ shares may not exceed 100%.
– If the agreement between the publishers and songwriters or composers provides for the songwriters or composers to receive more than 100%, the work should be registered with BMI indicating the percentages allocable to all songwriters or composers and all publishers so that the total is not more than 200%.
– Where no performing rights (or only partial performing rights) have been assigned to a publisher, the songwriters or composers will receive the entire 200% (or the balance of the entire 200%) in the same ratio as their respective writer shares. However, a songwriter or composer who has assigned to a publisher all or part of his or her proportionate rights in the publisher’s share shall not be entitled to receive any portion of the remainder of the publisher’s share allocable to his or her co-writer(s).
ASCAP for music creators
ASCAP is a society created by music creators. Registration is paid. Applicants can register as a:
– writer/publisher (I highly recommend this feature for independent music creators as more of one’s royalties are retained).
– Provides additional member benefits including access to wellness resources, education, marketing, Instrument & Studio Insurance, merchandise and travel.
– All Track is free for music creators.
– Music publishers pay a one-time- fee of $50.00 to $100.00. This fee is deducted from the royalties.
– Collect global performing rights royalties when music is played in 120 countires.
– Supplies user licenses to businesses. through which creators can earn royalties if their music is used.
– Fast and direct payment of performance royalties.
– Global collections covering 120+ countries
– Unlimited song registrations
– Retain 100% ownership of copyrights
– Receive 100% of your combined writer/publisher shares of performance royalties as a self-published writer (no need to signup as a publisher)
– Receive royalties on all bona fide live performances (not just the largest tours)
– Automatic royalty splitting and song registrations among co-creators/copyright owners.
– Automatic song registrations with AllTrack if music is distributed through one of AllTrack’s preferred digital distributors.
Eastern Caribbean Collective Organization (ECCO)
– provides a paid, one- time subscription.
– Member states of ECCO are Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Isles, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
International Performance Rights Organizations
Wikipedia (2020) provided a list of international performing rights organizations:
Most countries (that observe copyright) have the equivalent:
Australia Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA)
Australia Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA)
Austria Autoren, Komponisten und Musikverleger (AKM)
Bolivia Servicio Nacional de Propiedad Intellectual (SENAPI)
Brazil ECAD (Escritório Central de Arrecadação e Distribuição)
Canada Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), Re:Sound Music Licensing Company
Chile Sociedad Chilena del Derecho de Autor (SCD)
Czech Republic OSA
France Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique (SACEM)
Germany Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA)
Greece GEA-GRAMMO, ERATO-APOLLON
Hong Kong CASH
India The Indian Performing Right Society Ltd
Ireland Irish Music Rights Organisation, Phonographic Performance Ireland (PPI)
Nepal Music Royalty Collection Society Nepal (MRCSN)
New Zealand APRA
Puerto Rico ACEMLA
South Africa Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO)
South Korea KOMCA, KOSCAP
United Kingdom PRS, PPL
United States of America ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, ACEMLA (SPACEM), AllTrack, Global Music Rights (GMR)